Misfiring Tampines settle for point with Warriors

Warriors FC held Tampines Rovers to a 0-0 draw on Tuesday evening at Choa Chu Kang Stadium to give Razif Onn a decent start as interim coach. 

However, Warriors can count themselves lucky not to have lost after the visitors created a host of chances but failed to convert them.

Tampines coach V. Sundramoorthy called the result, their third straight game without a win, a “very disappointing” one.

“After the defeat against Home (United) and draw against Hougang (United), this is a match where we wanted to get full points. I think we created enough on the day that we could have scored four, but the ball refused to go in,” he said.

“We have to accept this is part of the game, if you don’t convert the chance. The boys did well to create a number of chances to finish the game. What to do? We have to stay positive.”

Tampines dominated the game right from the start, but had just one shot on target to show for in the first half.

A Jermaine Pennant free-kick in the 11th minute was headed over by Billy Mehmet, and the striker did the same seven minutes later off Yasir Hanapi’s cross.

Warriors were clearly relying on counter-attacks and it almost worked a treat when Hafiz Nor latched onto Hafiz Sulaiman’s glorious pass, but he fired his effort narrowly over.

Warriors goalkeeper Yazid Yasin had to push Pennant’s low free-kick wide in the 27th minute, while an unmarked Fazrul Nawaz nodded Ismadi Mukhtar’s cross over in the 35th minute.

Four minutes later, a well-worked set-piece saw Pennant send his corner to Fahrudin Mustafic, but the Tampines captain could not keep his header down after escaping from his marker.

The second half saw Tampines improve slightly, but once again, they could not find the back of the net.

Yazid, returning from a two-game suspension after being sent off in the last meeting between both teams, pulled off save after save to deny his opponents.

In the 47th minute, he got to a fierce effort from Yasir, before pushing Fazrul’s effort wide 10 minutes later.

A mazy run from Pennant in the 65th minute saw him go past three players before shooting with his left leg, but Yazid read it well and covered his angles properly.

A rare attack from the host saw Kento Fukuda meet Hafiz Nor’s outswinging corner at the backpost in the 80th minute, but the Japanese defender sent his header over.

Barely a minute later, Hafiz Sujad had the best chance of the game after robbing Zulfadli Zainal of the ball inside the area, only to fire wide with Yazid to beat instead.

The draw meant that the Stags now find themselves four points behind leaders Albirex Niigata (S), albeit having played a game more.

“We were really flying after the Selangor game. Now, we are brought back down to earth,” Sundram said after the game.

“We need a good rest now… We’ve played a game each every three days and there’s not enough rest.”

However, the coach asserted that he saw no problems with his charges.

“Again, it boils down to decision-making in the area. We are creating and passing the ball around,” Sundram stated.

“On the day, we can create a lot of problems. I don’t see a problem with my team still… I don’t think there’s anything distracting them.”

On the other hand, Warriors coach Razif was satisfied with what he saw despite taking charge just a few days prior.

“When we draw, especially with Tampines Rovers, it’s a good job for a start,” he said. “That’s important for the team.

“For sure, if we don’t score goals, it’s always very disappointing. But I think I must appreciate with the result they gave me today; it’s much more than I expected.

This is Razif’s second stint in charge of Warriors. His first ended with a 6-0 defeat to Geylang International at the end of last season, but Razif believes he can do a much better job this time around.

“Last year, I was not the one in charge of training session. I was put on the bench as head coach for Karim Bencherifa,” Razif explained.

“But I think with the experience I had last year, I would like to get more involved and I’m given the opportunity now, hopefully I can do better now.”